India accounts for about 2.4 percent of the total world area but has to support about 16.84 percent of the world population. The population in our country has been growing very rapidly from 238.5 million in 1901 to 1027 million in 2001. Thus during one century i.e. 100 years , the population of India has increased by nearly 788.5 million people. This order of increase is really alarming and threatening to the whole development process in India.
India's population growth during the twentieth century can be classified into four distinct phases as follows.
The growth of population was slow up to 1921 but after this year it increased significantly. It is for this reason that 1921 is described as the year of the Great Divide. After 1921, India passed through successively all the phases of demographic transition and now has entered into the fifth phase which is characterised by rapidly declining fertility.
Rate of growth of population is a function of birth rate and death rate. The increase in population in India can be explained by the variations in birth and death rates. The birth rate in India declined from 49.2 per thousand in 1901 to 25.8 in 2001. In the same period, the death rate has fallen from 42.6 per thousand to 8.5 per thousand.
The natural growth rate during 1901-1911 was 6.6 (Birth rate minus death rate during a given period) whereas it was 17.3 in 1991-2001. The increase in natural growth rate explains that the fall in death rate was more than the fall in birth rate. The fall in death rates were due to the development of medical facilities and control of epidemics and diseases. This is a very healthy sign of development. The census results of birth rate shows that the family planning programmes have to target the country especially the rural areas in a much more effective manner so that birth rate can still be reduced.
The National Population Policy (NPP)-2000 recently adopted by the Government of India states that 'the long term objective is to achieve a stable population by 2045, at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable development, and environment protection.'
India was the first developing country to adopt a population policy and to launch a nationwide family planning programme in 1952. The main objective of the population policy is to ensure that there is reasonable gap between the fall of death and birth rates. Population policy refers to the efforts made by any Government to control and change the population structure.
The National Population Policy (NPP) 2000 has the immediate objective of addressing the unmet needs of contraception, health infrastructure, health personnel and integrating service delivery for basic reproductive and child health care.
It also lays emphasis on the medium term objective of bringing total fertility rates to replacement level by 2010. A Total Fertility Rate of 2.1 is known as replacement level fertility.
The policy's long term objective is to stabilise population by 2045.
A National Commission on population presided over by the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of all States and other dignitaries as the members has been constituted to oversee and review the policy (NPP-2000) implementation.
Similar to the National Commission, State Level Commissions presided over by the respective State Chief Ministers have also been set up with the same objective of ensuring implementation of the policies.
1. Reduction of infant mortality rate (IMR) below 30 per 1,00,000 live births
2. Reduction of maternal mortality rate (MMR) to below 100 per 1, 00,000 live births
3. Universal immunization
4. To achieve 80 percent deliveries in regular dispensaries, hospitals and medical institutions with trained staff
5. Access to information , containing AIDS, prevention and control of communicable diseases
6. Incentive to adopt two-child small family norm
7. Strict enforcement of Child Marriage Restraint Act and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act
8. Raising the age of marriage of girls from 18 to 20
9. A special reward for women who marry after 21
Self-help groups at village Panchayat levels comprising mostly of housewives will interact with health care workers and gram panchayats
Elementary education to be made free and compulsory
Registration of marriage, pregnancy to be made compulsory along with births and deaths
The Government hopes to achieve the objective of population stabilisation by 2045